Public Works Productions

The Events Leading up to Our Temporary Disbanding

The True Uncensored Story
Behind the Demise of the Tape-beatles

by John Heck, waiter

University Study Finds

The phrase “Outta my way motherfucker” is oftentimes construed with negative connotations by persons on the receiving end of such a message, says Esmond “I like all things beautiful” Choueke look-alike Peter Torrenti.

Common misunderstandings can bring about adverse situations such as injury, missed life insurance payments, death, or even near death. People near death often hear the same heavenly music. Like many people who have near death experiences, the Tape-beatles, nearly dead, have heard that very same music, according to a university study — and paid musicians have actually recorded the soothing score! That’s what ex-Tape-beatle Paul Neff said at a recent rally I attended in the Tape-beatles’ downtown Iowa City studio. “It’s a fact,” continued Neff, “the music that people hear during a near-death experience (NDE) has a beautiful, floating sound. It evokes feelings of surprising overwhelming bliss — and whenever the formerly “dead” person hears music like it again, it gives them a wonderful feeling of total peace.“

Despite his certitude, not everyone agrees with Neff.

“My NDE was nothing like that” said former Tape-beatle Ralph Johnson. “I heard a voice calling from somewhere in the dark, then a loud crushing sound followed by an absolute silent darkness which soon came over me. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, my body was dragged by some unheavenly body to a pile of debris behind a condemned flat several blocks from my apartment where I came back from the dead. The thing that I have not been able to explain is that my credit cards and cash were gone. Vanished.“

Neff maintains that “many other people often write to me or call me after hearing my recordings to tell me that they’ve heard the exact same music during their NDEs. Some people burst into tears when they recognize the music of their NDEs.“

It sounds like — you may have guessed — new-age music. If you haven’t heard, new-age music is the recorded crashing of ocean waves passed through a reverberation box, with surprising variations created by the turning of a knob — sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right. The artist wants to depict an ordinary ocean or the artist wants to portray a large, vast ocean of untold depth. Because the artist is a sailor, a seasoned old story teller, the artist will describe an ocean with indecipherable layers which will wash you first behind one ear and then behind the other.

Should our navigational visionary, however, be operating a rudderless sailboat riding the waves of simulated echo, artistic intention will be a man overboard! and arts advocates everywhere will put on their uniforms and be off in their rubber rafts to the rescue. Advocate Ianos Schmidt recently extended his life-line over a mess-hall lunch with Tape-beatle John Heck. “The ambiguity of the ocean is a form of artistic expression in most cases,” said Schmidt, “the addition of reverb to ocean is like a finely seasoned gravy to mashed potatoes.“

“I don’t like gravy on my potatoes,” responded Heck, “well — I do, actually, its just that I don’t like gravy on my metaphors.“

What it’s Like

The dispassionate belches and grunts which leave the mouths of the Tape-beatles is somehow passed off for language and is not far from the noise which oozes out of their downtown studio from the little speakers on either side of the boxes they use to compress the sources fed into it. The speakers work much like an ordinary funnel, bottle-necking the ideas, the talk, the music, and all the bits that may have been interesting or worthwhile had the group any integrity or reason. But they disagree endlessly, splitting hairs over whose turn it is to take out the trash. As I write this, Lloyd has been railing against Paul and John for five minutes for not keeping their junk off the floor. Linda avoids the matter while all others stare at their feet.

It’s not always a pitiful display of the human condition however; sometimes they will amuse themselves for hours exchanging laundry secrets, news about holiday visitors, or miscellaneous factoids. John, to Linda, was speaking about refrigerators at another recent meeting: “Last week American assembly line workers cranked out more than 167,000 new refrigerators and freezers. Can you believe it — that’s an incredible 8,684,000 brand spanking new appliances every year. Placed side by side, they would stretch more than 4,200 miles — or all the way from Florida to the North Pole.“ Linda responded with talk about Americans shrimp eating habits; “Last week Americans gobbled up 5,827 tons of shrimp — enough to make one super jumbo shrimp 183 feet long and 52 feet thick.“

If you believe their talk to be windy, short-sighted and dull-witted, you will be getting out the Chapstick and putting on your Raybans® for the group’s latest release, “America is confident.” Don’t raise your expectations above half-mast —

— “Why not?,” interrupted Billy —

— because the product is sheer marketing and faceless self-promoting at best. Plus, an utterance of that popular referent “awesome,“ (applying it in this case as a real or, if you like, imagined response to such a piece of music) would take on unaccountable nuances of meaning as it might make its journey through a series of synaptic detours in the tight circles of obvious-minded dudes perhaps arriving at the glazed eye of indifference or into eyes-locked-in-cordial-agreement. If none of this is the case (that is, you do not dig it), you may choose to disregard it, move on, and feel comfortable in knowing that none of the continuity of your reading experience will have been disrupted in such a moment of seeming discontinuity. To find the music you must dig deep where, hidden somewhere under the plain superficial content, it lies. And you, listener, are seated at a well-made table, a banquet where your only role is swallowing. Pass the salt; a sheet of plastic with sound grooves is $2.50 postage-paid (or free with any order).

A Minneapolis man, calling in response to the new work said “I got the meaning, whatever that is — and my dog likes it.” Clearly, the most reliable critics are fur-coated relatives of the common wolf. Further on are certain evolved things with opposable thumbs who rely on their domestic friends for aesthetic or rational assessment. Maybe worse than that are certain un-nameable writers with self-effacing humor who slip out of character in the service of a personal attack.

“A squeaker,” grumbled the Master, as he and the Superintendent stood above the litter.

Great Dogs

Ross Haecker, not a Minneapolis man and yet the 1992 winner of the annual Great Dog Stories competition sponsored by the Tape-beatles is very close to his work. He is Master of Dogs in his prize winning fantasy story; “Bow To Me You Inconsequential Shits or Be Crushed.” While Haecker revels in his overwrought fictions, a recent court case between the Man and the sponsors of Great Dog Stories revealed the stirring truth of his life as being a real dog’s life. According to reports, Ross Haecker dropped the Tape-beatles from a March 13, 1992 bill only hours before showtime at his Uncle Roscoe’s Polo Club in downtown Davenport. After failing to apologize for breaking the deal, he hurled insults at Paul Neff, spokesperson for the band. Neff said only, “this was the show that could have seen Iowa City’s weathervane audio artists catapulted into the warm glow of an ultra-chic, jet-setting super-stardom.“

A source close to Haecker stated that “Old Ross was pretty broken up about the deal, he was all mopey and wet-eyed for hours.” According to our source one could hear the sound of a broken man chanting his mantra through his office door at the downtown spa, “I didn’t mean to make everybody feel bad, I try to be good but everything gets all mixed up.“ But he persists with his fantastic mental productions casting himself as a mega-giant in the Midwestern music scene and a stainless, brilliant pioneering nightclub operator. One critic called Haecker “the most dangerous man in show business.” Others said his dog “Lucky” was his “pride” and “inspiration.” One dog story competitor charged the multimedia artists with a conflict of interest regarding the group’s special relationship with the dog man. The disgruntled Tape-beatles were available for comment but said nothing.

Many of us enjoy less personal attacks — let’s see — easy targets like the president, or uh, doctors:

Doctor Glut, Ph.D.

A Tape-beatle meeting is to be enjoyed, as much, for example, as working beside array of modern American doctors. Two things distinguish Iowa City from the rest of the world; 1) the nation’s largest teaching hospital and; 2) a whining group of belly-aching audio art tarts. While there may be an astounding one doctor for every 200 Iowa Citians, there are fewer than one Tape-beatle per 15,000 citizens of Iowa City. In the private section of the hospital cafeteria, away from the din of common part-time or hourly folk, voices leak jokes about diverse matters such as money and “women,“ jokes that are fresh — hilarious even — while their values ooze between the cracks of the punch-lines.

“HEALING” PATIENT: How did you decide to become a doctor?

DOCTOR: If it isn’t obvious, then I will tell you. I chose medical school because I couldn’t think of a better way to make more money.


It is doubtless many of us would miss a beat.

The little secret is out, and like doctors, the Tape-beatles are spoiled children whose every whine is answered with an abundance as sure as we’re living in the bread basket of Godsburg. What’s more is the ego-soaked bickering is unbearable.

Fear Held them Captive for 8 Years

There hasn’t always been mere self-centered infighting and tireless egomania within the group; fear held them captive in their own homes for 8 years before joining forces as the Tape-beatles.

“I was afraid of people, cars, the sound of a siren, the sight of a flashing light. I was afraid of everything!“

That painful confession comes from Lloyd Dunn, 32, whose paralyzing terrors kept him a prisoner in his own home for eight years. But Lloyd told Esmond Choueke recently that he began getting therapy over the phone from a support group that doubles as a dating service. Now he is able to return to a life of blind dates, talking, and long candle-lit walks.

Lloyd: “In the past three months a miracle is happening in my life. I can get in the car with someone I trust. It took months before I could get off my block and then the second block and I’ve made it all the way to my mother’s, which is four miles away.“

Esmond: “That’s terrific.“

Lloyd: “But hold on, that’s not everything — I went looking for Ms. Right and made a date with Ms. Death! My support group/dating service set me up with a dream date who was a real killer — the charming Denise Bulloch. Unknown to me, Denise had bound her husband Jules and left him to die in a fire six months earlier.

Esmond: “That’s terrible.“

Lloyd: “I was lying on the couch and I had my eyes closed when I felt a paralyzing kind of pain going through my neck. I opened my eyes and she was on top of me, hitting me with a karate chop to my neck. I started screaming.“

Fortunately, she stopped hitting him and asked him to spank her! He escaped without harm. She later was given 12 years in prison for the death of her husband.

Tape-beatle Beauty was an Ugly Duckling in High School

Tape-beatle beauty Scott Seigling hated high school — he had zits, his teeth were crooked and girls his age constantly made fun of him and he spent 8 years in his home hiding in fear because of the distress it caused.

Ironically, his character as Tape-beatle funster Paul Neff is hip, cool and super-popular in the Iowa City music scene. But in real life, Scott never fit into the prestigious school he attended, West Branch High.

“Scott was the most miserable boy in school,” confided a long time friend. “He wore expensive clothes that made the other kids jealous. But his teeth were slightly crooked — and that made him feel bad. Besides that, Scott liked junk food — and when he ate it, his skin broke out in ugly zits. I went to two high school parties with Scott — and they were both disasters. At the first one, no one asked him to dance. He said, ‘The boys don’t like me because I’m not a California blonde. I don’t care. I’ll have my revenge on them one of these days.’“

Hollywood minute

Of silence. Here’s why: The Tape-beatles, once seasoned old storytellers, sailors on the high seas of audio fashion, are dead today at 22.

Shortly after submitting this text the to the editor, John Heck packed his bags and moved to Prague, the Bohemian capital.

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